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We have learned a lot since God humbled Job by daring him to comprehend how Orion and the Pleiades held together. But some scientists and philosophers say our idea of the universe is still too small for the infinite mind of God.

"Creation is more vast than we've ever understood," says Gerald Cleaver, a physics professor at Baylor University. "We as humans have gone through stages, understanding reality to be much larger than it was before."

We first expanded our understanding of the cosmos from a single planet with an intriguing, sparkling sky overhead, to a system of planets circling the sun, then to a galaxy of stars. Now we know that our galaxy, comprising a hundred billion stars, is one part of a universe that includes immense superstructures containing thousands of galaxies—"Great Walls," astronomers call them, millions of light-years across. Imagining this expanse shames some of our finest minds into Job-like awe. Cleaver and others believe we might have to widen our view yet again.

"The vastness of reality makes me appreciate the vastness of the Creator," says Robin Collins, a philosophy professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. "I come into contact with it through just thinking about the universe itself. It serves as sort of an icon for me."

Cleaver and Collins say we might have a clearer answer than ever to God's later, more basic question for Job: Do you know the laws of the heavens? (38:33).

Cleaver works in a branch of theoretical physics called string theory, specifically M-Theory—the same theory that gives physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking the confidence, in his recent book with Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, to declare philosophy dead and God unnecessary.

"To me [M-Theory] offers a Christian ...

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In the Magazine

December 2010

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